NOTEBOOK: Pats - Jets Connections

The New England Patriots lead the AFC East more by default than by good play. The division hasn't been as tough as in years past, partially due to injuries, mostly do to a drop off in talent. The New York Jets meet the Patriots for the first time in 2005, this week. Although the Jets are not mathematically eliminated, the game is more about the matchup of former players than a shot at the playoffs. There are plenty of Jets - Patriots connections in this division rivalry.

NOTEBOOK: Pats - Jets Connections

--The Patriots have been outscored in the second quarter by an absurd 108-30, including 77-13 over the past seven games. Only the Vikings, 49ers and Lions have allowed more points in any one quarter this season. Last week's loss in Kansas City was typical as the Patriots were outscored 12-3, turning a 7-0 deficit into a 19-3 halftime hole.

The Patriots have outscored their opponents in the first (62-41) and third (73-51) quarters and have played them to a virtual draw (78-79) in the fourth. The second quarter remains a mystery.

"I wish I could sit here and tell you if we just did one thing all of our problems would be solved, but I don't really have that answer," coach Bill Belichick said when asked about the disparity. "If I did, I would have done it five, six weeks ago. I think you have to play better through 60 minutes, through the entire course of the game, and that includes the first quarter, second quarter and every other quarter. You just have to do a more consistent job all the time. I don't have anything more to tell you."

--Last year's Patriots-Jets game at Gillette Stadium was a defensive struggle with all the scoring in a 13-7 Patriots win coming in the first half. The Patriots bottled up Curtis Martin (70 yards on 20 carries), held then-Jet Santana Moss to two catches for 12 yards and limited quarterback Chad Pennington to 58 yards passing after halftime.

Each team was 5-0 entering that game. It was the first time two NFL clubs with perfect records had met that deep into the season since Oct. 28, 1973, when the 6-0 Minnesota Vikings beat the 6-0 Los Angeles Rams, 10-9. For the Patriots, it was the last victory in their NFL-record 21-game winning streak, which ended the following week in Pittsburgh. Including their two playoff games last season, the Jets are 8-16 since that loss.

--Jets cornerback Ty Law won't be the only one in Sunday's game with ties to both teams. Martin, of course, played his first three seasons with the Patriots, and backup quarterback Kliff Kingsbury was a fifth-round draft pick of New England in 2003. The Jets' coaching staff includes two ex-Patriots - defensive backs coach Corwin Brown was a Patriots safety from 1993-96, and assistant running backs/assistant special teams coach Sam Gash was a fullback in Foxboro from 1992-97.

For the Patriots, Belichick, vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, defensive coordinator Eric Mangini and special teams coach Brad Seely are all former Jets employees, while linebackers coach Pepper Johnson finished his playing career with New York.

Patriots defensive lineman Dan Klecko's father Joe was a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Jets. Mangini's nephew, Jay Mandolesi, is a Jets defensive assistant. And Markus Paul, the Jets' new director of physical development, was the Patriots' assistant strength and conditioning coach from 2000-04.

--Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made a brief cameo as a rookie in 2000, throwing three passes in a 34-9 loss in Detroit on Thanksgiving. His real introduction to the NFL, however, came in the second game of the 2001 season when he subbed for an injured (and ultimately hospitalized) Drew Bledsoe in a 10-3 home loss to the Jets.

Brady completed five of his 10 throws for 46 yards. The next week he began what is now a streak of 82 consecutive starts, including playoffs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22-6 - The Patriots' record against the AFC East since the start of the 2001 season. They are 2-0 this season, having beaten Buffalo and Miami.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It isn't just Tom Brady out there. I expect us all to play well. When some guys struggle, other guys have to pick it up. We don't look at one person to win a football game for us." - Linebacker Tedy Bruschi on Brady's four-interception outing in Kansas City last week.

SERIES HISTORY: 90th meeting. The Jets lead the series 47-41-1, not including a 26-14 Patriots playoff win in December 1985. The Patriots have won four straight meetings and six of the last seven. In sweeping the last two season series, the Patriots haven't allowed more than 16 points in any game, winning 23-16 and 21-16 in 2003 and 13-7 and 23-7 in 2004.


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